When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship's comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship's safety.
One minute the children are there, and the next they're gone.
What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents - now turning on one another and blaming themselves - try to recover their children and their shattered lives.
Do Not Become Alarmed is the first book I have read by Maile Meloy, and I have no doubt that it will become one of the books to read this summer. It has been marketed as the biggest thriller this summer. That created a certain expectation, and sadly whilst being well written, it fell slightly short of being a thriller in the sense that I would expect.
The story starts off with two families, who are taking a cruise for Christmas, the ship is opulent and the families are well heeled. The cruise is for two weeks and the ship will travel down the Coast of Mexico and Central America. On board the ship they make friends with a third family who are Argentinian.
An excursion day arrives and whilst the husbands go off the play golf the others including the children all go off to explore and a this is where things begin to turn sinister. A series of unfortunate events lead up to the children's disappearance. The story is told from the parents and the children's perspective. The latter I enjoyed the most.
The prose in this story is great but I just felt the pace was slightly off. I was however interested enough to read on to find out how things would play out. I think my biggest problem however was that I didn't feel emotionally invested in the outcome. I didn't find some of the characters believable, particularly the behaviour of the parents after the children went missing.
An interesting read, and premise but not one I found tugged at my heartstrings and made me gasp at the end. I would have liked more emotional depth to the characters.
About the Author:
Maile Meloy is the author of the novels Liars and Saints (which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and chosen for the Richard and Judy book club) and A Family Daughter; the short-story collections Half in Love and Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It; and the award-winning Apothecary trilogy for young readers. She has received the PEN/Malamud Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was chosen as one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists. She lives in Los Angeles.
You can find her on Twitter: @mailemeloy